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In an ever-changing world, Vince Velasquez frustratingly remains the same

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Wash, Vince, repeat

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MLB: SEP 19 Blue Jays at Phillies
More of the same from Vince Velasquez in 2020
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The numbers

9 games, 7 starts, 1-1 W-L, 5.56 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, 12.2 K/9

The background

Vince Velasquez was acquired in the first major deal made by former general manager Matt Klentak, and the early returns on that trade were very good.

It’s now been over four years since that start, and Velasquez hasn’t come close to replicating it. Sure, there have been enough flashes of excellence and competent stretches to convince people that he’s close to figuring things out, but for the most part, it’s been four years of abbreviated starts and frustration.

And if this all seems familiar, it’s because I pretty much wrote the exact same thing when reviewing Velasquez’s 2019 season!

The good

Velasquez made two relief appearances and actually held the Braves scoreless for two innings in one of them. Being successful in 50% of his relief appearances actually puts him in the upper echelon of Phillies relievers in 2020!

As far as his overall season goes, I’ll offer this faint praise: Many Phillies pitchers failed to live up to expectations in 2020, but Velasquez was not one of them. Instead, he did exactly what I - and what any Phillies fan who has been following the team should have - expected him to do this season.

And if you look past his surface stats, you’ll see that much like 2018, his FIP was lower than his ERA, so maybe his season wasn’t actually all that bad. Maybe he’s on his way to figuring things out...

The bad

In three of his seven starts, Velasquez didn’t make it through the fourth inning. It would be one thing if his good starts were actually all that good. But even on his best days, a Velasquez start means that the bullpen is going to get used for at least three innings.

He still has only one reliable pitch, and while his strikeout numbers are good, its everything that happens when he doesn’t strike guys out that’s bad.

The future

The Phillies tendered him an offer in arbitration, so it’s possible that we do the Vince Velasquez thing once again in 2021. However, there are rumors that he’s on the trade market, which means that much like Nick Pivetta, he can move on to tease another team’s fans instead.

Barring a trade, my hope is that they’re not counting on him as more than a long reliever/sixth starter type. If they want to have him compete with Spencer Howard for the fifth spot in the rotation, I suppose I could live with that. But if he ends up taking regular turns in the Phillies’ rotation in 2021, then absolutely nobody should be surprised when the results are the same as they’ve been the last four years.